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Class of '51

From Art to Zizzi: the Class of '51 in 2012

Members of the Class of '51 met twice in 2012, visiting the art gallery at Compton Verney in Warwickshire in April and enjoying a convivial lunch in London in August.

At Compton Verney our party comprised eighteen from our school year, ten of whom were accompanied by their wives. We were especially pleased to welcome Jim Parke and Martin Swales, each making his first visit to one of our lunches.

On arrival we were given a short talk on the history of the house which is largely the work of Robert Adam, dating from the 1760s. After World War II, the building became increasingly derelict until rescued in 1993 by the Peter Moores Foundation, reopening as an art gallery in 2004. Our party enjoyed a tour of the gallery which includes a portrait of our well-remembered ‘pious founder' attributed to the Flemish painter William Scrots and also one of Edward VI's big half-sister, Elizabeth I. We also enjoyed two special exhibitions: Gainsborough's Landscapes and Into the Light which covered French and British Painting from Impressionism to the 1920s. As we toured the exhibitions many of our number thought back to our schooldays in the 1950s when Bruce Hurn led parties on instructive visits to the Barber Institute in Edgbaston, one of the finest small galleries in Europe.

We had a break from touring the exhibits to enjoy an excellent lunch, when conversation flowed as it always does when Old Edwardians get together. Before departing, we had hoped to enjoy a leisurely saunter around Compton Verney's attractive wooded grounds, but heavy April showers resulted in an undignified scuttle of senior citizens back to the car park. Nevertheless, the day had proved thoroughly enjoyable: great art, superb company, jolly conversation and a fine lunch, all set in delightful surroundings.

The first group reunion of the Class of '51 had been a pub lunch at Meriden in 2003, attended by seventeen members of our year at school. Since then our group has grown to over forty members and tradition now decrees an annual "Gentlemen's Pub Lunch", usually in London. This year, fourteen of our group met, including a welcome first appearance by Bernard Richards. We dined at Zizzi in Wigmore Street, having first prepared ourselves with drinks at the Pontefract Castle nearby. Conversation was as wide-ranging as ever, though after a good meal and several bottles of wine precise details of the topics covered now seem somewhat hazy. Such is the way time passes when members of the Class of '51 get together for luncheon.

Now we are looking forward to our Spring outing in 2013. If anyone else from the 1951 intake would like to join us, please email me. 

Robert Darlaston